Saturday, October 31, 2009

Life for a Lens

Photo: A lone man watches the ocean amidst the trash left behind by attendees of the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in Mumbai, India 2009.

As a photographer, I spend most of my time alone. I meet random strangers in airports and airplanes, city markets and hotel lobbies. There really isn't anything glamorous in what I do--it just sounds interesting to the naked ear.

For years, I've tried to compartmentalize my life, separate my work from reality, from career to personal life--find an equilibrium between fact and fiction and filter everything through the membranes of my nocturnal psyche. But lately, I've realized that it's literally impossible--impossible to decipher the difference between what I do behind a lens and what I should be doing when I put it down. Ultimately, there is no difference.

Lately, I've been living out of airport terminals and empty-cold hotel rooms, eating dinners alone and surviving on hope. Talking to my mother on the phone, I'd lose track of where I am, what time it is and what day I'll be home. Sometimes,I'd lie to her by saying I'll be home soon--knowing very well that I have more destinations in between. It tugs on my heart strings--and late at night, I'd sit awake, wondering what else I've missed in life.

Birthdays go unnoticed, including my own. Thanksgiving day was spent eating a bag of beef jerky on a plane. Invites to events I'd get invited to sit rampant in my mail box. And as I read all the status updates of my Facebook friends, I can't help but to envy those who have normal lives--those who have a place to call home.

I miss going to the movies. Sharing a drink or two. Sleeping in on rainy days. Grocery shopping with my mom. Praying with my family.

Sure, there will be many who will read this and say I'm complaining, ungrateful for the job I have or just whining about my life. And to be honest, they have every right to think just that--but let it be known, that this blog was not to glorify what I do or bring to light my career, but rather, to bring you with me behind my lens--to show you what it's really like to have it consume your life.

Blogger Note: I'm currently on assignment in Vancouver, Canada to cover the arrival of the Olympic Flame.


Wander to the Wayside said...

I don't think you sound whiney or complaining at all. In fact, I think that you're doing what human beings do every day - analysis their lives. See where they've been, where they are now, where they see themselves in the future, both near and far. I don't think it matters if your a photographer, a journalist, a diplomat, a teacher, or a store clerk.

Well, sure we romanticize your life. Duh! You're out there doing stuff that's foreign to most of us! Living out of a suitcase, going where the wind (or assignments) blows you. Meeting new people, seeking new adventures, seeing sights most of us only see in books or on tv. We sacrificed the opportunity for that kind of life by wanting the house with the spouse and 2.3 kids, a dog and cat, the newest car, cable tv. I will always envy you your will always envy me my anchors.

You say that "this blog was not to glorify what I do or bring to light my career, but rather, to bring you with me behind my lens--to show you what it's really like to have it consume your life." And that's exactly what you've done. Although I - we - glamorize your job, we know the truth is what you have just said...that it can be lonely, that you have made sacrifices.

I hope that you know that we, your readers, appreciate the sacrifices you and so many other photographers and journalists have made so that we can see a different life through your photos and your words.

And hopefully you will reach a time in your life where you can at least use that camera for a purpose closer to home, so that you can reclaim your place among your family and friends.

Vera said...

To follow your path successfully means having to make compromises which sometimes seem unbearable. This I know. But at some point those compromises do come to a positive result, and when one looks back one can say, 'Yes, that has been worth it'.

I find connecting with people like yourself, through blogging, makes me feel less isolated. I don't view the world through a camera lens, but I do see a different world to most. And reading your words helps me to count my blessings, at the same time respecting the fact that you are out there in the world doing what you need to do, while I sit at my PC writing the words for my work and my blog. Peculiarly, I feel more able to do this knowing that others are living their lives, yourself included. It sort of makes me feel snug inside. Odd that. But then I at an age when eccentricity is allowable!

Happy travellings with the Olympic torch.

floreta said...

yes i'm sure it wears you down. i suspect its not something you may be able to keep up with. but enjoy it while it lasts :)

TheChicGeek said...

Hi Ron :)
Those of us on Facebook just look like we have normal lives...LOL
We're actually just as strange as the next guy :)

I love this picture you have up, Ron. Is it colorized at all or is that really the color of the sky and the sea? If so, wow...amazing!

It is hard to be on the road all the time. I do understand your frustration with it. You see so many beautiful things, scary things, exciting things, and then there's, like you say, the dinners alone, the waiting at airports, missing family and friends. It's hard to develop meaningful and lasting relationships when you are always traveling. Can you imagine how lonely it would have been in the days before the internet?

You know, you really do bless us all so much with your insights and your stories and your beautiful pictures. Thank you for that! You always make my day when I stop by and read a new post or see a new Facebook message from you. I think, oh, good, Ron is good, he is safe and wow, what adventures he has. You give me something to dream about :)

Just think, some day you can retire and sit at home and hang around the house all, does that sound fun?????? Not! You'll be dreaming of all the adventures you had in life. The bottom line, I think we humans always want what we don't have. We just have to be thankful for what we are given and appreciate the day we are in. Who knows what tomorrow will bring :)
Big Hug and Love and Blessings to You!

PS: You can whine because we all love you, always will, and that's what friends are for, a shoulder to cry on, someone who can remind you of your blessings and cheer you up!

Ava said...

I appreciate very much the sharing of your thoughts behind the camera. Please keep it going!

Deboshree said...

Hey Ron,
Somehow I have always felt that it is very hard to be satisfied with what we have.
Everyone goes through what you do, my friend.People living normal lives sit and wonder..will it ever change? Will I ever see any action in my life? And there you are, with the whole world in front of you, just waiting to be photographed and you miss a normal life.
We all want a little bit of everything. When too much of something gets too much, we need that something other. That's what you are going through and if you miss all that so much, you are sure to do it soon my friend. Have faith and never lose hope.God bless you Ron.


John said...

When situations like this hits you bro, think of it this way.

The decision is in your hands. You have the power to do what you want with your life, like NOW.

And oftentimes, it depends a lot on the timing.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Your time will come, bro. And when it does, I pray that you will have the wisdom to recognize it and make the right decision. If that doesn't work, remind me to bring along a sledgehammer when we go camping so that I can knock some sense into you!

Small Footprints said...

I used to work for a very large company and envied employees who were sent to remote locations ... until I become one of those employees. It's like the world continued to spin while I was stuck, alone and lonely, in one spot ... without friends or family ... without a home.

I appreciate what you do and that you share it all with us. Your shots inform us about so many things. Like this shot ... with all the trash on the beach beneath a clear blue sky. It says so much!

When I was feeling so alone, I was reminded by a friend from far away that I always have choices. So, when it's time for you to change paths, you'll choose to do so.

Hang in there ... we're all here with you!

Small Footprints